Corey Evans' Friday night #Gibbons notebook: Isaiah Kelly shines
The brackets were set as the ball finally tipped where the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions kicked off on Friday evening throughout the Suwanee, Georgia area. Hitting a few off-sites games within the 16-under platform, the opening night session gave insight on some of the better names throughout the southeast but it was Isaiah Kelly that showed it all off with his team’s star missing in action.
ISAIAH KELLY SHOWS IT ALL OFF
The Atlanta Xpress team is one of the better teams on the 16-under level within the UAA circuit. Led by its star sophomore and one of the most unique prospects in all of the land in Khavon Moore, Kelly had to step up his game on Friday evening as the 6-foot-8 wing was nowhere in sight. Not only did the Pace Academy star step his game up to the next level but he also showed improved athleticism, a bulldog mentality, and a wealth of versatility on the playing floor.
Whether it is on the travel circuit with Moore, or on the high school scene with top ranked 2017 big man Wendell Carter, Kelly tends to not get the respect that he rightfully deserves. Consistency can sometimes be an issue but it seems as if the 6-foot-6 forward has turned the corner with his game. Filling up the stat sheet and leading his team with 27 points in all, Kelly brings some shades of former Iowa State star Georges Niang to the floor. He can score on catch and shoot jumper from deep, puts it on the floor and throws accurate passes below the arc, rebounds his area on the glass, and can finish through contact.
On the recruiting front, programs such as Xavier, Vanderbilt (old staff), Wisconsin, and Alcorn State have offered the Xpress standout. “Xavier, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Cal Berkeley, and Wake Forest,” Kelly told HoopSeen as to who has been in contact and present lately at his games.
Eyeing a potential visit to Iowa State next month as he has family up north, look for Kelly to stand out even further as he stamped his name at Gibbons as the standout from day one.
WHO IS THAT GUY?
He is only a freshman at this time but Bruce Guy Jr. is not just any freshman, he is more like a man with a major upside to him. The lefty immediately stood out with the looks test in the lay-up line prior to his first session at Gibbons and what he did thereafter impressed even further.
A 6-foot-6 wing-forward type out of the Memphis, Tennessee area, Guy, just like Isaiah Kelly, stepped up his game as his Team Thad 16-under unit was missing its key cog in star wing and elite freshman, DJ Jeffries. All Guy did on Friday evening was show off the ability to make all of the right plays with the basketball as he also scored it with efficiency and toughness down low. The lefty can hit on catch and shoot jumpers from beyond the arc but also on pull-ups near the 15-foot marking. Ambidextrous to a degree, on one possession, Guy nailed a touch 8-foot runner with his off-hand near the baseline, nearly causing my eyes to roll out of my head.
To put it bluntly, Guy can be special. The 2019 star out of Houston High School mentioned early offers from Western Kentucky and UT-Martin but has further interest trickling in from the likes of Virginia and Florida. Be warned, Bruce Guy Jr. is not for the faint of heart; he is a competitor, go-getter, and a super versatile, decently polished freshman with the size to boot, all that should make him a high-major recruit in the coming years.
WHERE IS THE CEILING WITH JUSTIN LEE?
The night kicked off at Collins Hill High School with the Game Elite Black securing an easy win and in blowout fashion. There is a bevy of talent on the Peach State based 16-under team but it was Justin Lee that may have showed off the greatest upside in the aux gym on Friday evening.
Displaying great size in standing at 6-foot-6, yet with even longer arms and great agility as Lee can move his feet and defend on the perimeter, but also handle it on the other end of the floor, the local product can be really good. While he has a higher center of gravity and super long legs which hurts his quickness off of the first step, Lee doesn’t force the issue and plays angles well on the attack to the basket. He hit a catch and shoot perimeter jumper during the first half of his contest and was engaged on the glass all night long.
The fact that Samford is the only program even involved with Lee thus far is laughable, at the very least. Lee has all of the physical tangibles to not only be an asset at the divison-1 level, yet also be recruited by the better programs down south. Sure, gaining further strength and developing his skillset is a need but one better get their binoculars out because the basketball ceiling that Justin Lee showcases is nowhere in sight.